With housebound families and pets, and animal shelters around the world reporting a coronavirus-inspired surge in pet adoptions and fostering, now more than ever, your home is important for providing a sense of security and wellbeing during stay-at-home directives. While sequestered inside you’re also experiencing what it’s like for your pets to be indoors for extended periods of time while you would otherwise be at work or away from home.
Whether you are a current pet parent or adding a new furry friend to the household, pets add positive energy to our homes and lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet ownership has many health benefits, including decreasing stress, blood pressure, loneliness and providing opportunities for exercise and increased happiness. Pet ownership can also teach children the responsibility of caring for a pet.
As a feng shui consultant and founder-designer at Catio Spaces, the design principles of feng shui, the Chinese art of placement based on “chi” energy, can be especially useful during stay-home orders to help all members of your household thrive (and survive) these turbulent times.
Here are 5 tips to create harmonious living spaces:
1. Create a space of your own.
If the walls feel like they are closing in or you’re experiencing too much family togetherness, find a space of your own. Whether it’s a bedroom retreat to read a book or a leisurely bath behind closed doors, take time to relax and recharge. If you’re working from home and your cat is sprawled across your keyboard demanding attention, place a cat tree near a sunny window where your cat can enjoy birdwatching. A dog bed placed nearby and out of the path to your workspace can provide comfort and companionship for both of you as you stay productive.
2. Move furniture to the power spot.
Humans and animals have a primal need to feel safe and our homes are our safe havens. The location of key pieces of furniture in your home, such as your bed, desk or sofa, impacts whether you are in a proactive or reactive relationship to your surroundings. Check each room to see if your furniture, cat bed or dog crate is in the “command position” out of the direct path entering the room, a solid wall of support is behind you when seated or sleeping, you’re able to see the entrance, and the key piece of furniture is the focal point of the room. Avoid having your back to the door. These feng shui principles support being in command of both your surroundings and your life.
3. Clear your clutter.
Clutter blocks the flow of energy in your home and can not only create chaos and stress, it can exacerbate a feeling of being “closed in.” Human stress also affects your pets that can lead to unwanted behaviors. Creating a sense of order is especially important in times of uncertainty. Remove household items if they get in your way, distract you from what’s important, or no longer have a use or place in your life. Tackle one room at a time, and encourage all family members to pitch in. Doing so can promote both a sense of accomplishment and serene living spaces and opens up space for playing with your pets.
4. Clean and refresh your surroundings.
A clean home creates positive energy for its occupants. Give your home a deep clean by opening the windows to remove stagnant air, cleaning the panes for a sparkling view of the outdoors, washing bedding, pet beds and vacuuming dust and pet hair. Bathrooms can be a convenient place for the cat’s litter box, but a better location is a laundry room. If a bathroom door is left open it can negatively impact household finances by creating an “energy leak” through the drains, toilet and shower. (Water relates to money.) Keep the litter box clean to minimize odors and diligently scoop the lawn or other outside areas the dog uses.
5. Connect with Nature.
Cut some flowers and foliage to bring the beauty of nature indoors. Fresh air and the joy of gardening are several benefits of spending time outdoors. Taking walks in the neighborhood with your leashed pets (adhering to social-distancing guidelines) provide exercise and a daily opportunity for bonding with your pet.
While dogs enjoy walks and playing in a fenced backyard, cats also need fresh air and the enrichment of the outdoors. If allowed to roam free, cats can be exposed to a variety of dangers including vehicles, predators, poisons, diseases or getting lost. Try leash training your cat, or spending time in a catio, an enclosed outdoor “cat patio“, to provide exercise and stimulation on a daily basis. If you’re handy, a DIY (do-it-yourself) catio plan can take the guesswork out of building one – and it’s a fun weekend project. Many lumber and home improvement stores offer curbside pick-up, delivery services and are open with social distancing guidelines.
Catio plans are available in a variety of designs and sizes for a window, deck, patio, yard or garden. Catio Spaces offers DIY plans that are downloadable PDFs with a detailed materials and tools list and step-by-step instructions with diagrams.
Also included are tips for acclimating your cat to the catio space plus tips for cat-safe plants, enriching accessories, and décor.
Staying healthy and well during “stay home” directives:
While the coronavirus pandemic has heightened awareness of preventing the spread of disease, keeping healthy at all times is important for both humans and pets. Catio Spaces joins the CDC in encouraging pet owners to practice good pet hygiene and schedule regular veterinary visits to help ensure the well-being for all members of the household. As Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh a “disease detective” from CDC’s One Health Office stated:
“Our bond with animals and enjoyment of nature are important for staying active, healthy, and happy.”
Practicing healthy habits can help you enjoy your pets while staying healthy during these times of uncertainty. Stay safe and be well. We will get through this challenging time – and appreciate life even more on the other side.